A friend’s grandmother passed on recently. It wasn’t totally unexpected but knowing doesn’t lessen the impact. I didn’t know her grandmother. In fact, I’ve not met my friend—we’re one of those new “internet” friends—like folks who chat and post over the internet, tied together by common strings.
She posted the simple announcement on her webpage and people gathered to give support. I did, too, but I’m always at a loss what to say. Nothing, really, can be said at that point other than sympathy.
My grandmother has been gone a long time. Other than my sister, all my older relatives are now gone and we’re left with slowly fading memories.
We can extend their time on earth by keeping those memories fresh. I wrote the post below last year. I don’t remember, now, what triggered the thought, but I’m reposting it. Maybe it will give a bit of comfort at a time when it’s needed.
It’s near Halloween. That means it’s time for ghost stories. We, over time, create our own ghosts. We all have some for one reason or another. Life events, especially of people we’ve known well, have loved, create ghosts—the remembrance of those, their ghost, remains with us throughout life.
One of mine is my Grandmother. She died in 1960 when I was 13, quietly of heart failure. It was late Spring. School was still in session. Mom was teaching in a nearby town. I was a Freshman in High School. Dad, after being laid off at the mines, was working for the county, clearing brush along rural county roads.
A cousin of my Grandmother had died. Visitation was that evening and the funeral was scheduled for the next day. As usual, Grandma spent the day preparing for the funeral dinner—baking several pies and a large blackberry-jam sheet cake. With the pies and cake baking, she worked awhile in our garden, one of three that totaled over an acre. She usually spent the day working around the house and yard. When the rest of us got home, she had supper waiting for us.
I don’t remember much about the visitation that evening. There was no one my age around. On the way home, Grandma said she felt tired and was going to nap. I sat in the back seat next to her. The trip home took about a half hour.
When we arrived home at the farm, Grandma wouldn’t wake up. Mom noticed Grandma wasn’t breathing. We rushed her to the county hospital ten miles away but it was too late.
As usual when we traveled, Grandma always held my hand while we sat in the back seat. I remember she squeezed my hand when she said she was going to take a nap. Sometime during that drive home, she died…holding my hand.
Years later when I was working toward a degree in Psychology, I had a class where we spoke about a traumatic event in our lives. I repeated this story. The trouble was…it wasn’t traumatic for me. My Grandmother was a strong Christian—as were we all. Yes, I was saddened she died but I expect to see her again. Also, I was young and younger folk, through their inexperience in life, sometimes aren’t as affected as are adults.
We all have our ghosts, memories of those who have gone before us. They live in our memories, accompanying us as we travel through life. I believe our behavior is guided more by our ghosts than anything else.
I’m older now and have acquired more ghosts—my Mother, Father, my Father and Mother-in-law, a few high school friends, too. Ghosts need not be fearful. They can be a comfort, our memories of them, of all the good and occasional bad events in our lives. I’m fortunate to have many of the former and few of the latter. I wish the same for you.